In Patricia Engel’s 2016 novel, a family, having been exiled from Cartagena, Colombia to the United States, is separated from their country by a vast gulf. But the ocean doesn’t just act as a barrier—it is also the scene of the traumatic event that the protagonist’s life revolves around.
Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s third novel is a story about how trauma flashes, like lightning, but then crashes and reverberates throughout one’s life more slowly, like thunder.
Like all exile stories, for Héctor Abad to survive, he has to avenge the tragedy of loss by hanging on to the good, even when it returns him to sadness.
Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, in his 1992 memoir, describes himself and other exiles as corpses, or ghosts.
Three years ago, I was thrown out of a Trump rally. A friend got circled by police officers, stared at by supporters. He protested. I jumped in. As the police officers wrangled me, Trump said, I can’t believe in Louisiana it takes this long.”
Suarez opens his 2018 short story collection with a dive into the bizarre nature of Cuba: “Stealing the giraffe wasn’t the problem. Transporting it from the city to the countryside-even at two a.m. on a Wednesday night with a few bribed cops clearing the path-that was another story.”
Between December 1960 and October 1962, around fourteen-thousand unaccompanied children arrived in Miami from Cuba as part of Operation Pedro Pan; my father, migrated here on June 29, 1961.